“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” ― Sylvia Plath
My life has been put on hold for a few months now as I’m sure, has yours. The global pandemic has been a real monster and it’s hard to find an upside but I’m trying. Sure, I spent the first half wallowing in self-pity but now’s the time to turn it around. Look for the silver lining on the bright side of the moon. I’m sure it’s there. It has to be there. Maybe if I lift some rocks? Kick some dust. Move that flag over just a bit. Oo, a footprint!
Okay, maybe there’s not a whole lot of good floating around right now but there’s been plenty of time to think. Yay? No, I’ve had a little too much time to think. I’ve just about run out of things to think about. Can we run out of thoughts if we think too long? Huh, that’s an excellent question if I do say so myself.
Before I run out of thoughts, here’s a thought I’ve been turning around in my noggin. I’ve come to the realization that I take a lot of things for granted. Small things mostly. Going to the grocery store and smiling at strangers. We do that in Canada. Smile at each other as we walk by. Having to wear a mask has been a cultural nightmare. It’s hard to smile at someone when you’re wearing a face mask. Sure, we try to add a little more light to our eyes and we arch our eyebrows in a way that, hopefully, conveys a good old fashion, “Hey bud!” Maybe I need to get a mask with a smiley face on it so I can just point at it and they’ll know.
For the most part, I take the small things for granted but I try very hard to keep enough gratitude in storage for the really big things. You know, important things like family and friends. The love of good people. People who’ll come to my rescue when I’m stranded on the side of the road. It was forty below zero, Celsius, and there they were; putting a new battery into my old car. Yeah, I didn’t take that for granted.
There’s the time my kidneys failed and they all rushed to get tested. No hesitation or a million ultimatums. They dropped everything to see if they were a match for transplantation. They actually yelled at me because I didn’t ask them for a kidney. Clearly, I was being very rude. How could I not ask? Geez! Then again, how do you ask someone for a part of their body and not sound like a complete creep? Buy them a cup of coffee and when they thank you, say: “No worries! Just give me one of your kidneys and we’ll call it even.”
Maybe I should’ve offered them some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Okay, maybe not but they were still willing to donate their kidneys. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is and I’m so grateful to have these people in my life. I don’t always express my gratitude. Sometimes I don’t know how and other times, I fear, I take their kindness for granted. Maybe it’s because, in some ways, I’ve lived a very blessed life. When you don’t go without things like kindness and love? It’s too easy to get comfortable and forget that, for once, the coin landed in your favour.
I have a family who loves and supports my crazy endeavours. Whether it was an odd rock polishing phase or writing a blog. No matter how questionable or how many times I’ve failed; they’ve been there to cheer me on or pick me up when I fall. Their support has always been unwavering. If I’m in trouble, all I have to do is pick up the phone, send out an SOS, and they’ll come. Two simple words: Help me. That’s all it takes and my people show up.
I’ll never take these people for granted but, as I said, sometimes I overlook their kindness. When your lucky enough to have it, it’s easy to assume it will always be there and maybe it will. Maybe my luck will hold out, and these wonderful people will be in my life until my last breath. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be acutely aware of their kindness or assume it will never go away.
Without a doubt, I could endeavour to show more gratitude than simply saying, “Thank you.” Though I find expressing gratitude, or any emotion, is harder than it seems. I don’t know why, but I always feel awkward, or do I feel inadequate? Either way, it never feels enough. No matter what I do or say; I feel like I’m ill-equipped to express the depth of my emotions.
It’s easier to assume that they know how I feel without feeling all the sticky, icky, sentimentalities. An assumption that has caused me to have a very costly lapse in judgement. If I don’t express how I feel than I find myself taking it all for granted.If I do that, then how will they know how much I love them? I can’t just leave it at that. If I do?
But what if the already know without me saying anything? What if there’s a chance that’s true? I’m not saying telepathy is real because, you know, science and all that. But, with the people we’re deeply connected to, is there some sort of emotional telepathy that lets words go unspoken? Is there a bond so deep that it renders those words superfluous?
What a nice thought! When words fail me, when my body is too weak, there’s this silver wire from my heart to theirs. I can close my eyes and simply feel the emotions I want to convey. Those feelings, thoughts of love and gratitude, travel along that silver wire like a spark from a flint. As soon as I feel it, think it, the spark shoots off and it reaches the kindling. The fire’s lit and they feel a warmth spread throughout their body.
Every time I think about them, the fuse is lit and off it goes down the silver wire. They’d know how much I care. They’d know that I’m thinking of them. Never, for a second, would they wonder if I take them for granted because the fire would keep them warm. It wouldn’t matter where they are in space or time. The wire can’t be broken and the spark can’t die out.
What a beautiful image! If only it were true then words wouldn’t be needed.
When the roles are reversed, I don’t need their words of gratitude. They don’t need to buy me coffee or fava beans. I love them and would be there for them in a heartbeat. Just like they are here for me without complaint or judgement. But, it’s nice to hear that I’m not taken for granted. Necessary? Not at all but it feels good so why wouldn’t I send that feeling back along the wire?
I think, for most people, we don’t need verbosity or grandiosity. We don’t need a master production. We don’t need an epic soliloquy. We don’t have to be Shakespeare to get it right. We just need to show up and remind them, and ourselves, that we’re lucky to have each other.
Life is hectic, it’s easy to slip into a holding pattern and forget about the things we take for granted. Big or small. Smiling at strangers or standing in freezing weather. The people that have shown up for me? I can’t take them for granted. I can’t take their kindness for granted. I can’t take my good fortune for granted because it’s a gift and gifts can be returned to the sender.
I’m sitting in my little apartment, hiding away from the world, and I’m traveling down a morose thought. I’ve always had this precious gift. It’s always been this way. I’ve always had good people in my life but what if I didn’t? What if a time comes that I make a call that isn’t answered? Out of all the what-ifs in the world? This is probably the most terrifying of the lot!
Wow and with that one thought, I realize how often I squander a very precious gift. Not out of malice or greed but laziness and presumption. What has always been may not always be so I can’t take any of them for granted. My people. My family. My friends. I am so lucky to have you all and I wish the silver wire was real so you could experience that emotion as intensely I as I do. Just in case, I’m lighting the fuse and sending it your way.
As for you, dear reader, know that I don’t take you for granted, either. You could be anywhere, doing anything, but you chose to spend some time with me. Believe me, that means more than you’ll know.